Tuesday, September 04, 2012

National lied to us over Westpac corruption

Last year, in the wake of pointed questions from the Greens about Ministers accepting corporate hospitality from Westpac, John Key promised that he would tender out the government banking contract Westpac had held for the past 23 years.

He lied:

The Government has not tendered its lucrative master banking contract more than a year after Prime Minister John Key said opening it up to competition for the first time in 23 years would be ''healthy''.

Westpac acts as the Government's banker and holds the accounts of all government departments, but not Crown entities or state-owned enterprises. It is thought to be the largest banking contract in New Zealand and was last tendered in 1989.

In 2010, Finance Minister Bill English indicated he would run a procurement process for government banking to ensure the Crown was getting value for money.

Meanwhile, Westpac is still bribing Ministers with corporate hospitality, and gave a top job to former Minister Simon Power. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence, right?

The government's excuse is that tendering it out may not be value for money - but we don't just run tenders to get the best deal for the taxpayer; we run them to prevent corruption. Sadly, that's exactly what appears to be going on here. Free rugby games. Big dinners. Jobs for the boys. And oh look, here's billions of dollars a year in cashflow for you to take your percentage of. It looks terrible, and it smells worse. Ending that image is more than justification for a tender process.